Crab quesadillas with sweet slaw

My love language is gifts, and I’m huge on thanking people – for a job well done, for a generous favor, for opening their home. 

Meals are my favorite gift – not just because I love to cook, but because I love to see people enjoy something that only exists in the moment. This meal was a thank you for hosting, made alongside my best friend, with wine and wonderful company. 

Dinner was a relatively quiet affair, punctuated by good stories, laughter and murmurs of “This is SO GOOD.” 

The perfect plate – crab quesadilla with slaw
Serves 4 generously, up to 8 as a lighter meal.

You’ll need:

Quesadillas:

  • 8 tortillas (we used medium-sized flour, these would be great with corn, too)
  • 3 pounds crab, picked over for shells (or cracked yourself)
  • Your favorite taco seasoning (I used a mix of chili powder, cumin, garlic, salt, paprika, lime and oregano)
  • 4 T butter
  • 2-4 cups queso (depending on how much you love cheese).

Slaw:

  • 1/4 head of red cabbage
  • 2 bell peppers (red, orange or yellow)
  • 1/2 a fresh pineapple
  • 1 mango
  • 1/2 a red onion
  • 1 bunch cilantro 
  • Juice and zest of 2 limes
  • 1/4 c orange juice 
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 2 T blackberry jam
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 t salt

Get cooking:

Quesadillas:

  1. Heat a medium sauté pan over edo high heat. (We used cast iron.)
  2. Sauté the crab with a bit of butter and your seasoning mix. (You could also just stir the crab and mix together – I just like the flavor development the heat brings.)
  3. Butter the tortillas on the outside (you could also just spray the pan with Pam, if you wanted to cut the calories).
  4. Add a bit of cheese to the inside of one tortilla, spread with crab, then top with cheese. (This helps the tortilla stick to both sides.)
  5. Fry for 3 minutes on either side.
  6. Keep warm in the oven until all the quesadillas are done.
  7. Serve with slaw and quacamole. 

Slaw:

  1. Shred or dice fist six ingredients – add to a large bowl.
  2. Whisk last 6 ingredients together, toss with the slaw.
  3. Serve immediately, or chill until ready for use.
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Fresh 7-layer dip

You guys. This dip. ZOMG it’s like someone took your grandma’s 7-layer dip and gave it to a gourmet chef, who slapped it into shape like a boot camp sergeant. Not gonna lie: this dish requires a lot of stuff. But start to finish, I’d say this is doable in under an hour, if your chopping and multitasking skills are on point. (My wine handicap added a bit of time.) Technically, this dip is only 5 layers, but you can always add some tomatoes or olives or whatever else you like on your tacos.
Fresh 7-layer Mexican dip
Super tasty, very impressive, good as an app or a standalone meal.
This thing is a showstopper – the best appetizer at any party and totally appropriate for dinner, all on its own, with chips. Not kidding. It also goes pretty well with this. Thanks to Annie’s Eats for the recipe!
You’ll need:

Beans: 

  • 1/2 lb. chorizo
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans
  • 1/2 c chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Layers:

  • 1 1/2 c guacamole (Either prepared or homemade.)
  • 1 c fresh salsa (I used this fresh tomatillo salsa, but use your favorite.)
  • Crumbled queso fresco or shredded pepper jack cheese – as much as you want 🙂

Sour cream: 

  • 1/3 c sour cream (or plain greek yogurt)
  • 1 chipotle in adobo, chopped (seeded if you don’t want it super spicy)
  • Juice from 1/2 a lime

Get cooking:

Beans:

  1. Heat a pan over medium-high heat, add chorizo and cook 5-7 minutes, until browned and fully cooked.
  2. Add beans and stock, cooking for 5 minutes until stock reduces.
  3. Mash beans and set aside to cool.

Sour cream:

Mix ingredients together, adding salt or more lime juice as wanted.

Assemble the dip:

  1. Spread the beans on the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate or cake pan.
  2. Top with guac, salsa, sour cream and cheese.
  3. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips or veggies.

Mexican pho

When one of your very best friends comes home from Maryland, you drop everything to make her whatever sounds good. And when she comes home in the fall, what sounds good is soup. And Mexican.
I wanted something simple to pair with this, and came across my pho recipe from last winter – clean flavors, fun toppings. And thinking Mexican made me think tortilla soup. Ta done – Mexican pho was born! This would be equally good with a quesadilla side, or even just queso and chips.
Mexican Pho
Simple and satisfying, it’s like the LBD of Mexican food – dress it up any way you want!
You’ll need:
  • 8 c chicken broth – low sodium
  • 2 c chicken (rotisserie leftover roasted chicken works – you can also add 2-3 raw chicken breasts and shred before serving)
  • 2 carrots – diced
  • 1 large onion – diced
  • 3 cloves garlic – minced
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1/2 t cayenne
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Additional lime wedges, minced cilantro, avocado, queso fresco, tortilla strips and jalapeño slices – to serve
Get cooking: 
  1. Place all ingredients (chicken broth through pepper) in a slow cooker and stir to combine.
  2. Heat on low for 4 hours, or high for 8 (you can cut the time down if your chicken is already cooked.)
  3. Serve with lime wedges and garnish with plenty of minced cilantro and jalapeño slices.

Roasted sweet potato burrito bowls

My latest foray into “how can I feed more people, more often,” is hosting a monthly book club. But my friends love everything from teeny-bopper vampire tales to gut-wrenching memoirs to aspirational career books – why would we want to read the same thing (that every other book club in the country is probably reading)?

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So we don’t. Each month we pick a theme, and read a book of our choice. Not only have we not spoiled a book for someone, we actually talk about books – plus, we get recommendations (on what to read – and what NOT to read).

I try to match the menu with both the theme and any dietary restrictions (in this case, vegetarian and gluten free). March’s theme was luck, so I wanted something green – but real green, not processed green. Enter roasted sweet potato bowls with green rice. Barely adapted from Cookie and Kate, these bowls were a HUGE hit – and I made a HUGE amount. This recipe could be halved (and even quartered) if you want a more manageable dinner. It multiplies well, is super filling and also really healthy. (We made up for that with dessert. And wine.)

sweet potato2

 

You’ll need:
Green rice
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 c brown rice
  • 6 c broth (veggie or chicken)
  • 2 16 oz. bags frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed of liquid
  • 3/4 c cilantro
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Juice of one lime
  • Salt to taste
Sweet potatoes
  • 5-6 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • Olive oil to drizzle
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 t paprika
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t cayenne
  • Zest of one lime
  • Salt to taste
Black beans
  • 3 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 c salsa (any is fine)
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 T cumin
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t cayenne
  • Juice of two limes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Garnishes
  • Avocado
  • Salsa
  • Cilantro
  • Queso fresco or chipotle cheddar
  • Lime wedges
  • Minced jalapeno
  • Sour cream

Get cooking:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Toss sweet potato with olive oil and spices, spread in one layer onto one large or two smaller baking sheets. (I use stones, so I don’t have to grease, but you may want to spray/parchment your pans. As long as they’re rimmed, you’re fine.) Bake, turning once or twice, until browned and fork tender (35-40 minutes.)
  2. For the green rice, blend vegetables in a blender or food processor until smooth. (You can thin out with broth if you need, it’ll depend on how much water your spinach has.) Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, until shimmering but not smoking. Add rice, stirring and browning lightly. Stir in green blend, cook for a minute, then add broth and boil. Once it’s boiling, cover, lower heat to a simmer, and cook until rice is tender (35-45 minutes.) Once it’s done, remove the lid, cover the top of the pan with a paper towel and replace the lid (this soaks up excess moisture and helps the rice stay separated.)
  3. For the beans, combine ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until other ingredients are done. You can smash-up some of the beans if you want a more “refried” texture, or leave them whole.
  4. Once everything is finished, serve buffet style with all the garnishes, and let people assemble their own bowls. Serves 8 with a fair amount of leftovers.

 

Chorizo Sloppy Joes with Tomatillo Salsa

A lot of my best dishes start as inspiration from other blogs. One of my favorites is Annie’s Eats – even as a working mother, she finds time to create delicious and healthy meals from scratch. And as the mama bear of my friends, I’m usually cooking for one or more of my cubs (plus the hubs) every night of the week. Food is my love language, and since I love a lot of people, I need a lot of fast, fun and healthy ideas.

Chorizo black bean sammie
All the best in Mexican food – chorizo, black beans, cheese, salsa, cheese…

The beauty of this recipe lies in its adaptability. Making it for a vegetarian? Just use all black beans (or add crumbled veggies patties/sausage.) Gluten free? Switch out the bun. Dairy free? Hold the cheese. I served this with a Mexican vegetable soup, but you could also serve with chips and salsa.

You’ll need: 

Sandwiches

  • ½ lb. Mexican chorizo (Spanish is usually fully cooked – Mexican has the consistency of breakfast sausage, but you’ll need to cut it out of the case.)
  • 2 15 oz. cans black beans
  • 1 large onion
  • 2-3 bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup Mexican beer (or any lager)
  • 4 rolls (I used pretzel rolls, YUM.)
  • 8 oz. cheese (I used Iberico because I got some on clearance, queso fresco or manchego would be good too.)
  • Sliced avocado

 Salsa

  • 8 – 10 tomatillos, cleaned and quarter chopped
  • 2  cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, torn off stems
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Splash of water
  • Salt to taste

Get cooking:

Salsa

  1. Pulse all ingredients in food processor until finely chopped. (Or whatever consistency you like – it’s really up to you.)
  2. Spread on sandwiches.

Sandwiches

  1. Saute chorizo until it releases some of its fat (2-3 minutes), then add in onions and bell peppers, and saute until chorizo is cooked through (7-8 minutes) and onions/peppers are soft.
  2. Deglaze pan with beer and cook until reduced by half.
  3. Spoon on rolls with cheese, avocado and salsa.